More people are discovering the fun of attracting Blue Jays to their backyards. And one of the Jays favorite foods? Peanuts in a shell. Yes...Jays are boisterous and loud, but they are comical and entertaining as well.

Many folks believe Blue Jays rob the nests of other birds wreaking havoc. However stomach content research on 500 Blue Jays showed little evidence to support that fact.

I occasionally hear about these dire acts that Blue Jays are accused of. However few people have actually witnessed a jay robbing a nest and it is more of an accusation passed down by word of mouth. At times they are loud and can over power other birds defensively, but this action is all part of the natural world birds live in.  In reality, free roaming cats and snakes are the common nest predators.

Blue Jays provide a great service to other birds acting as an early warning device by sounding the alarm when a predator shows up. Although at times they may sound a false alarm scaring off other birds allowing them easy access to the bird feeder. And if a typical warning call doesn’t flush the birds away they have the ability to make the call of a Red-tailed Hawk which usually will do the job.

Blue Jays cache away many of the peanuts they carry off from the platform bird feeder. They have an incredible memory recall of where they hide these food stocks. Studies have shown that even when landmarks around their cache of nuts are rearranged in an attempt to confuse them they remember exactly where they have stashed those nuts.

At times some jays will attempt to take two or more peanuts at once, which can be quite a challenge for them. Once a Jay acquires their bounty, they will fly to a branch, place the peanut between their toes, and chisel and pry it open to get at the high energy peanut inside. They’ll carry off many peanuts and cached them away for leaner times. This has given the Blue Jay the nickname of “harvester bird’ as they plant dozens of trees by stashing a variety of tree nuts that they don’t bother to retrieve. 

My first attempt at feeding peanuts to Blue Jays was to toss a peanut onto the driveway. It wasn’t long after it hit the concrete that a jay would show up and snatch it off. I’d repeat this process one peanut in the shell at a time. If I stopped the jay would sit on the corner of the house watching and waiting for me to toss another peanut. Blue Jays are members of the Corvidae family of birds which include crows, ravens, and magpies. These are some of the most intelligent species in the bird kingdom.

So if you want some additional entertainment in your backyard, put some peanuts in the shell on a platform feeder for the Blue Jays. You may need to add a squirrel baffle to prevent those furry daylight robbers from stealing them. But once the peanuts are offered, it won’t take long for the Blue Jays to show up and the fun begins. I’ll have as many as 15 Blue Jays arriving to collect these treats.

Watch the Jays as they pick a peanut up and drop it, then select another and drop that one. They will repeat this process numerous times as they test for weight to determine which in-shell peanut has the most nut meat inside.  I’ve even watched jays return with an unopened peanut to the feeder to exchange it for a different one they must believe to be a better choice.

In feeding Blue Jays you’ll learn to identify each Jay by its hierarchy in the flock. You will identify which jay is the most dominant as it gets the pick of its peanut first right down the chain of command to the most subordinate of the group. You may even witness some aerial combat as they challenge each other for that dominancy. However when juveniles appear at the feeder begging to be fed all the jays, no matter what their ranking in the hierarchy is, seem to tolerate them as those inexperienced birds try to figure out what to do with those peanuts in the shell.

Give it a try! Whether you toss the peanuts on the ground or put them on a squirrel proof platform, you’ll enjoy the fun of attracting Blue Jays. But mind you - you may want to ration the peanuts as the Jays will work until all the peanuts are gone. You may even see an occasional Red-bellied Woodpecker battle for his fair share. And don’t be surprised when all the peanuts have been consumed or carried off if the Jays scold you to let you know you need to replenish their favorite treat. 

Wild Bird Habitat Store’s  Platform Bird Feeders

Wild Bird Habitat Store’s Squirrel Baffles

Wild Bird Habitat Store’s Peanuts In-Shell